Candidates for cranioplasty have the procedure performed for a variety of reasons, including:
- Protection: Cranial defects can leave the brain vulnerable to damage.
- Function: Surgical repair of a skull defect may improve neurological function
- Aesthetics: A skull defect may affect confidence and appearance, as they may change the way the forehead, head and face look
- Headaches: Cranial defects from prior surgery or injury can cause headaches
Patients who do not require a cranioplasty for any of the above reasons are not candidates for the procedure.
Before surgery, you should inform your orthopedic surgeon of any medications or supplements you take, and comply with certain general surgery procedures such as preoperative blood testing and possible cessation of smoking or use of pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs one week prior. You may need to stop taking blood thinner medication (e.g. Warfarin). You will likely be asked to stop eating or drinking the night before the surgery.
Depending on the exact procedure for a skull defect, an overnight hospital stay of 1-3 days or more may be required. You may have a headache and some pain. For any major pain or discomfort during the initial recovery period, you will have prescribed pain medication. Follow up with your surgeon for any visits and refrain from driving and full participation in work and normal activity until given the go-ahead to do so.
As with any surgery, there are risks of complications related to scarring, infection, blood clots, or adverse reactions to anesthesia. Complications specific to cranioplasty include bleeding in the brain and risk of stroke. If an infection from cranioplasty arises, a revision surgery would be necessary to remove and possibly replace the repair materials. However, incidences of these complications are extremely rare.
$6,500-$15,000 (depending on exact case)